UK unemployment rises to 4.5%

The UK unemployment rate increased to 4.5% during the three months to August, the highest level in over three years.

According to the latest figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), the total number of unemployed increased by 138,000 to 1.58 million people. It comes as over 227,000 people were made redundant during the period – the highest number since the 2007 financial crisis.

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in March, the number of payroll employees has fallen by 673,000.

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However, the figures also show that since the start of September there has been a modest increase in employment, with 20,000 more people in payrolled employment when compared with August 2020.

After a record low of 343,000 vacancies in April to June 2020, the ONS said there has been an estimated record quarterly increase of 144,000 to 488,000 vacancies in July to September 2020.

The office said that vacancies still remain below the pre-coronavirus pandemic levels and are 332,000 (40.5%) less than a year ago.

In addition, it found that between March to May 2020 and June to August 2020, total actual weekly hours worked in the UK saw a record increase of 20m, or 2.3%, to 891 million hours.

Average actual weekly hours worked saw a record increase of 0.7 hours on the quarter to 27.3 hours.

The ONS said: “Data from our Labour Force Survey show the employment rate has been decreasing since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, while the unemployment rate and the level of redundancies have been increasing in recent periods. Total hours worked, while still low, show signs of recovering and there are fewer people temporarily away from work.

“Vacancies also show signs of a recovery, with a record quarterly increase in the recent period. Annual growth in employee pay strengthened in August 2020 as employees continued to return to work from furlough; this followed strong falls in months since April when growth was affected by lower pay for furloughed employees, and reduced bonuses.”

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